Chapter 3

 

 

 

 

Stephen feels just that little bit ashamed with Amanda’s admission.

 

“What about your own family?” he asks in a quiet voice.

 

“What?” says Amanda, looking stunned. 

 

“What about your own family?” Stephen shouts.

 

Amanda goes red with embarrassment and looks out the window.

 

Stephen feels awkward. He looks shamefaced towards Amanda’s reaction with shaken attitude written all over it.

 

“Sorry,” he says.

 

Amanda twists her head to his and says just as shakenly

 

 “That’s ok. My family is dumb.”

 

Emotionally, Stephen knows that Amanda is being real.  That is why having a sister in his own life has been essential for his own mental health.  

 

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The timer on the oven starts clanging like grandad’s mantle clock after 40 minutes of baking.  Helen looks around the kitchen for Mary. Her mother can’t be seen. She knows not to interfere with someone else’s cooking. Mary runs from the lounge. She never wants to lose control of anything in the kitchen.

Helen leans over the bench as the chocolate banana cake is brought out into the daylight just rising above the edge of the cake tin.

Mary finds a knitting needle in the third drawer down and pokes it into the centre of the cake. She pulls it out slowly. She smells the needle while holding up her right hand showing four fingers to Helen.

 

“That’s as long as it will take to get this to the right point,” says Mary with a face full of joy.

 

“Sweet,” says Helen.

 

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Stephen carries six rolls of building paper to his station wagon and throws them in the back.

He heads back to reception to say goodbye to Amanda but can’t see her.   

Amanda walks through the back door with her cell phone in her hand holding it up to Stephen.

“That’s a photo of my dad.  I loved him but he’s dead now.”

“That’s no good Amanda.  My dad’s still alive.”

‘I know.  You’re lucky.”

“Just come to his birthday…. which is your birthday too.”

Amanda hesitates.

“You don’t have to say yes.”

Amanda blushes.

“Alright.  Good idea.  I’ll come.”

Stephen turns as he leaves.

“I’ll text you the info.”

Amanda carries on into the afternoon with a happier attitude.

 

“Four minutes is a long time in anyone’s life,’ says Mary to Helen.

Helen acknowledges that. What Mary did since starting the timer is admirable. She puts the vacuum cleaner away, puts the washing away, makes a cup of tea, get the ingredients out for

icing, looks lovingly so many times at Helen, Helen looks back so many times then the oven alarm goes off.

“Jesus I’m sick of that alarm sound,” says Mary.

Helen’s text alarm rings on her cell phone.

Mary takes the cake out of the oven while Helen stares at her cell phone. 

 She holds it up to Mary’s face looking stunned.

“It’s from Brenda. The one who gave me away.”